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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: June 14, 1999
[Editor's Note: We have removed a segment of the review that indicated a multiplayer mode is in the game. Material received from ASC Games indicated the feature would be in the boxed release but excluded from the version we reviewed.]
When approaching the review of a racing game, there is one thing I dread: when the name of a famous racer finds its way into the title. The reason this discourages me is usually I have found it results in an ego trip by someone who knows everything about racing and nothing about gaming, leading to a product nobody enjoys. Alternatively, the racer may not have much of anything to do with the title and the name is just slapped on in the hopes buyers will ignore the poor gameplay. Contrary to the notion that having a real racer involved in the design adds realism and excitement to an offering, my experience is that most titles do better if they forget about celebrities altogether.
So when I received Jeff Gordon XS Racing, published by ASC Games and developed by Real Sports, I frankly did not expect much. But after installing it and playing through the first race, my jaw dropped. The sleek and shiny cars are gorgeous, and the tracks are spectacular in terms of jumps, twists, turns, leaps and drops. The driving is so fast, I can hardly believe it. Although the title is by no means perfect and certainly will not appeal to every gamer, I could tell I was in for a real treat.
While some computer racing offerings are arcade-oriented and others simulation-oriented, many today involve a mix of both. Jeff Gordon XS Racing is an exception to that as its nature is one hundred percent pure arcade. Indeed, as someone who has tested all existing PC arcade racing titles, this one takes the cake for being most like what you would experience at video arcades. The reason behind this is that Jeff Gordon has been addicted to racing video games since he was five (he is now 27) and was determined to help create an offering that matched or exceeded the best of what he had experienced. As co-designer and co-producer of the title, it is clear his impact on its final form was both huge and positive.
One of the most jolting aspects of Jeff Gordon XS Racing is not the racing but rather the extent to which it is being used as an advertising instrument. All professional racing is filled with advertising, from the cars to the outfits of the drivers, but I have never seen a computer title in which corporate sponsorship is so much at the core. You even have to choose a sponsor when you race! Fortunately, it does not distract from the gameplay once Gordon gets the green flag.
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